Healthcare Professionals Most Vulnerable As Chikungunya, Dengue, Swine Flu Strike Delhi

Delhi has recorded at least 1,719 cases of swine flu this year.

New Delhi: The number of swine flu patients in Delhi is rising at an alarming rate. Doctors warn that it is likely to get worse. Reeling under the monsoon, Delhi is already battling a double whammy of Dengue and Chikungunya. This year, however, there is an additional burden of H1N1 (Swine Flu).

Delhi has recorded at least 1,719 cases of swine flu this year. The H1N1 virus usually spreads during colder temperatures and its early spread has taken doctors by surprise.

“The H1N1 virus usually surfaces during Novermber or December but this year, it is already playing a havoc,” said Dr S Chatterji, Senior Consultant of Internal Medicine at Apollo Hospitals.

The reason for this, he explained, “The virus mutates each year to increase adaptability and is therefore thriving in the humid monsoon condition too.”

Doctors say Deepika is recovering fast.

22-year-old Deepika Sharma, a staff nurse at the general ward of Apollo Hospitals, came down with high fever, bouts of breathlessness and symptoms of flu last week. Consultation and tests detected that she had Swine Flu. She was immediately admitted to the isolated Swine Flu ward. The isolation ward is guarded by a security man who wears the N95 mask.

Rampal Singh, the guard, said, “I stand guard outside the ward. I have been vaccinated but who knows? I was a bit scared but I take precautions and ensure those entering do so too.”

Since the entry to this isolated ward is restricted, one has to wear proper masks and gloves and the ones who enter are advised to avoid physical contact with the patient.

Ms Sharma told NDTV that healthcare professionals are most vulnerable when it comes to contracting diseases.

Till all the tests are done, it is difficult to ascertain what the patient suffers from. Thus, the general ward is most vulnerable to catching on the virus.

“At the general ward, we receive all kinds of patients and unless we get test results, we don’t know what the patient suffers from. As a medical staff, I must continue to do my duties and treat patients no matter the risk it poses,” she said.

Doctors say that Deepika is recovering fast, her fever has subsided and with time, cough and weakness will also fade away.

While Delhi has managed to control Chikungunya cases to 194 and Dengue cases to 325, the H1N1 virus has claimed five lives.

Dr AC Dhariwal, Director of National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) told NDTV, “The virus will spread faster in September and October.  High levels of humidity in the coming months and the congregation of people during the festive period will aid virus growth and transmission respectively.”

Precautionary measures such as avoiding crowded places and practising respiratory etiquette is vital.  Those with flu-like symptoms must visit the doctor and restrain from venturing out into the public, he said.